CHARLES GRAHAM - Job and road plans give seasonal cheer

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WIGAN has been given two welcome pre-Christmas shots in the arm this week.

Firstly it was announced that the Saddle Relief Road, which we had been told was due to open in the new year, is so well advanced that it should be ready for use in time for the festive season’s big shopping rush.

Having spent many an hour in snarled up traffic around the town centre and know what a detrimental effect a hitherto inadequate infrastructure has had on business investment and visitor numbers locally, I truly hope that this new route veering off Pottery Road and under the famous Adam viaduct will make a big and positive difference to vehicle flow.

We may be well served by motorway and rail, but our internal road network remains a serious drawback for the local economy.

Only time will tell and one has to remember that the ring road has never functioned properly around Wigan because it has never been completed!

Work stalled in the 1980s and we are still waiting for the ends to be joined up between the Saddle and Frog Lane.

The notion of completing the task keeps cropping up on transport plans then disappears again, so I guess we will have to make do with the hoped-for improvements afforded by the Saddle Relief Road, as it is called, for some time to come.

The second piece of good news is that developers of the former Pemberton Colliery site are looking at creating hundreds of jobs with a new development that would incorporate a hotel, pub and variety of retail and leisure outlets.

I well realise that there are only so many pub and shop users with a limited amount of money to go round and that their loyalties may be further tested by the recession.

But in this dog-eat-dog world where local folk are being urged to “buy Wigan” this would on balance prove a boon, I hope.

And for a borough of this size and stature we have a pitiful number of hotels at the moment.

There are several others supposedly in the offing, particularly around the town centre, but they have been on the planning books for years and none has come to fruition yet.

For one to spring up handily close to the Land Gate motorway junction, I think, could be particularly beneficial.

The next stage is for developers Peel to market the plots so even the Pemberton project isn’t going to spring up over night.

But we should take heart that in the long term folk are expecting an upturn in prospects and I wish the scheme well.